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The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 12, 2012 20:49 UTC (Fri) by cyanit (guest, #86671)
Parent article: The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Why didn't they just start shipping Android phones?


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The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 12, 2012 21:43 UTC (Fri) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

Why would anyone have chosen a Nokia Android phone rather than any of the others?

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 12, 2012 22:27 UTC (Fri) by k3ninho (subscriber, #50375) [Link]

For the same reason people pick ThinkPad laptops. Nokia hardware was always good and robust (like ThinkPads) and they're a known brand across the world. There is a niche for the solid and reliable Android phone. The price of the smartphone is going to drop and bring ubiquitous touchscreen data to places where copper cables can't, and Nokia are the leader in that market segment - so I was surprised to see Nokia's reliable hardware miss out on taking a cut from the Android portion of the market.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 12, 2012 22:40 UTC (Fri) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

The differentiation between UI on Android phones is a pretty strong indication that competing on hardware isn't enough - vendors need to compete on the software as well. Nokia would have been starting years behind their competitors, and there was no reason for Google to give them any help. Microsoft needed a top-tier phone manufacturer who would gladly dedicate themselves to their platform (so, not HTC) and could provide the engineering effort to make up for Nokia's lack of experience. If they'd gone Android they'd just have been an expensive but otherwise generic Android device, perhaps with a better camera.

Sure, over time Nokia could have pushed Android down into their lower end devices and differentiated themselves there, but the Chinese vendors are already busily doing that and again Nokia would have arrived years after everyone else. They didn't have years. Distasteful as it may be, going Windows was a rational choice for Nokia.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 12, 2012 23:11 UTC (Fri) by pboddie (guest, #50784) [Link]

So, what you're saying is that Nokia needed to reject a platform where they could differentiate themselves, but where it would require hard work, and embrace a platform where as a manufacturer they cannot differentiate themselves, with limitations even imposed on the hardware profile (yes, that joke about Windows phones having three buttons - guess which ones - finally came true). Of course, Nokia can differentiate themselves on the camera optics and sensor, and we see that with the PureView hype, but a manufacturer can do that and more with an Android handset.

The principal argument for rejecting the Android brand, as opposed to the technological platform, is that it gave Nokia the ability to deliver their own services instead of things like Google Maps. However, that doesn't need a tie-up with Microsoft, and a generic non-Google Android-based platform could have delivered much of the same services. Even a warmed-over Ovi Store would have been starting at the same level - close to zero - as Microsoft's offering, so it wouldn't have been like Nokia would have been throwing away that advantage.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 12, 2012 23:20 UTC (Fri) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

Hard work, a lot of money and a willingness not to ship any products for two years. Time taken from the burning platform announcement to shipping a Windows phone was 9 months. There's no way they could have released an Android device that was anywhere near as compelling in the same timeframe, and given rapidly they were losing cash waiting even longer wasn't really an option.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 0:46 UTC (Sat) by chithanh (guest, #52801) [Link]

Android was ported to the N9 by a handful of volunteers. ASUS developed the highly desirable Nexus 7 Tablet within four months.

If Nokia wanted to bring an Android device to market, they could have certainly done so. Even if that meant to run Android on a phone which was in the pipeline for a different OS. And they would have sold enough of it to keep the company afloat.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 1:07 UTC (Sat) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

Shipping a generic Android on their platforms would have been possible, and also entirely uninteresting. The phone market isn't interested in unskinned Android. Asus, meanwhile, have been shipping Android tablets for over two years.

There's simply no way Nokia could have shipped an Android device as compelling as the Lumia in 10 months. Tying themselves to Windows gives them a chance of market dominance rather than guaranteeing gradual irrelevance.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 9:43 UTC (Sat) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

The phone market isn't interested in unskinned Android.
The hype around the Google tablet says otherwise. My own experience with the Google Nexus S too. I have never seen a review of a mobile phone center around the proprietary UI features (although I don't follow that kind of hardware porn too closely, true). Care to substantiate that statement?

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 10:09 UTC (Sat) by marcH (subscriber, #57642) [Link]

> > The phone market isn't interested in unskinned Android.

> The hype around the Google tablet says otherwise.

Sellers and buyers typically have opposite goals: screwing the other side.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 15:45 UTC (Sat) by rahulsundaram (subscriber, #21946) [Link]

buyers aren't interested in screwing sellers, typically.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 21:51 UTC (Sat) by marcH (subscriber, #57642) [Link]

You must have an iPhone.

iPhone?!?

Posted Oct 13, 2012 21:55 UTC (Sat) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

That must be the strangest deduction I have heard since the time I read Nietzsche's "Also Sprach Zarathustra".

iPhone?!?

Posted Oct 13, 2012 22:19 UTC (Sat) by marcH (subscriber, #57642) [Link]

You actually never met any Apple fanboy happy to be ripped off?

iPhone?!?

Posted Oct 13, 2012 22:23 UTC (Sat) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

Yes, and Apple was actively trying to screw them off. I doubt rahulsundaram is in that category of Apple fanboy, or is as obtuse as to be fooled by Apple. Now Google OTOH... :)

iPhone?!?

Posted Oct 19, 2012 15:34 UTC (Fri) by Jannes (guest, #80396) [Link]

haha, but a super funny one! +1 marcH

(sorry for the spam, I really giggled)

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 14, 2012 2:26 UTC (Sun) by rahulsundaram (subscriber, #21946) [Link]

And you must be a three winged butterfly.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 14:39 UTC (Sat) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

(1) Tablets aren't phones
(2) How many carriers provide Nexus devices?

UI matters?

Posted Oct 13, 2012 15:19 UTC (Sat) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

(1) Trivially true. The difference may or may not be relevant.

(2) I don't know, I bought my Nexus S from Vodafone Spain (which also offers the Galaxy Nexus). Typically buyers will prefer to buy Google phones unlocked and without a contract (i.e. straight from Google).

Since you don't provide any data to support your statement, just a couple of riddles, let me bring up a scientific sample of the first three pages for "Samsung Galaxy S3 review" that come up on Google.

  • CNET lists "Touchwiz" as a minus.
  • TechRadar lists "Top media management" as a pro, which could be construed as UI -- but which can also be just an app.
  • Technorati has a very confusing 4-page review, but at the end says:
    The Samsung Galaxy S III is still one of the top phones on the Android Market right now. Some software issues aside the phone still out performs so many other devices. The hardware side alone is mesmerizing enough and some of the other features just need a bit fine tuning and you have yourself a very worthy phone for a while.
    Let me translate: "software bearable, hardware good".
If Nokia cannot build better hardware than Samsung, then they are in big trouble, Windows or not Windows.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 15, 2012 10:27 UTC (Mon) by dgm (subscriber, #49227) [Link]

> The phone market isn't interested in unskinned Android.

Here, here! I am!

Now, before you claim I'm not "the phone market"... well, I'm fully aware of that... Can you please send greetings from dgm next time you speak to them? Thanks!

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 15, 2012 16:24 UTC (Mon) by bronson (subscriber, #4806) [Link]

Have no fear, the skins over ICS are thin and getting thinner.

Whether it's Google or the Market that spoke, skinning is becoming just theming now, not saddling the poor handset with crazy amounts of unstable bloatware. Thank GOODNESS.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 18, 2012 8:34 UTC (Thu) by ncm (subscriber, #165) [Link]

Sorry, you're not a market, you're just a customer. A market is somebody willing to spend money betting that you will be a customer.

To get J. to make shoes that fit and last, it's not enough that you want to buy them. J. has to be convinced that shoe stores will believe you want to buy them, and would want to sell them to you more than they want to try to sell you something else instead, and more than somebody else wants them to try to sell you something else instead. It's a miracle when we find someone selling what we actually want. It's always much easier all around to come to believe that we want whatever they have to sell.

A similar argument applies in politics, where you're just a voter, not a constituency.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 18, 2012 14:04 UTC (Thu) by raven667 (subscriber, #5198) [Link]

That is an interesting and widely overlooked perspective.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 18, 2012 14:17 UTC (Thu) by dgm (subscriber, #49227) [Link]

> Sorry, you're not a market

Exactly what I said, no need to be sorry. May point was that he's not either and, as a result, assertions like "the market doesn't want..." are a bit frivolous (hence the tone of my reply).

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 1:07 UTC (Sat) by bronson (subscriber, #4806) [Link]

Sure, they could have released a stock Android experience on one of their existing handsets in 9 months. Very doable, especially if they could attract Google's attention. True, they couldn't have added some "Nokia Sense" skin to it, but those seem to be on the decline anyway.

It would at least give them another option if Microsoft announces that they're entering the handset business themselves.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 1:27 UTC (Sat) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523) [Link]

You might remember that this phone sank like a stone in retail. It took them about 2 years to develop a decent phone with a half-decent OS.

It would have taken much less time to polish their Meego offering.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 1:32 UTC (Sat) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

And a less polished Android device would have sold better? Meego wasn't an option - perhaps they'd have sold more, but they'd have spent massively more money in the process and done nothing to further next year's platform.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 1:36 UTC (Sat) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523) [Link]

Who knows? Nokia was famous for its hardware quality, there was a huge brand loyalty (in Russia, at least). Quite a lot of people would have payed a little bit extra to get a reliable good-looking phone.

Hell, a lot of people in Russia were still buying Symbian-based smartphones when Android had already been available.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 1:43 UTC (Sat) by daniels (subscriber, #16193) [Link]

> It would have taken much less time to polish their Meego offering.

Doubt it. It took two years to go from the N810 to the N900 and two years to go from the N900 to the N9, if you go on release dates alone. But if you take into account the fact that the N900 and N9 were developed in parallel, you start to see that making any Maemo/MeeGo phone took an unacceptably long time. And even then, the results - while impressive by the standards of open source phones - often faltered by comparison to the rest of the market.

Plus you have to take into account the stated intention of the N9 platform having no future (MeeGo-Harmattan vs. MeeGo), so by sticking with MeeGo, they'd retain zero same-platform advantage, and would probably have run out of cash by the time they'd managed to get sales off the ground.

I'm pretty sure that they'd have a much lower marketshare today if they'd stuck with MeeGo, than jumping to Windows Phone.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 1:51 UTC (Sat) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

so instead they announced that all development agsinst their current platform was a dead-end, released a windows phone and almost immediatly afterwords announced that that platform was a dead-end and that the phones were not going to be able to be upgraded to the next release of the software.

Nokia's foot-gun didn't need Linux for ammunition, they are shooting themselves quite nicely with Windows.

If they had actually stuck with any one platform instead of changing platforms for every major phone release cycle they would probably be far better of than they are now.

It's possible that Windows will save them, but it's also a new, unknown phone platform with no apps. In addition they can't change it as they are completely at the mercy of Microsoft. Microsoft does not have a good track record of supporting their partners over a long timeframe.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 1:58 UTC (Sat) by daniels (subscriber, #16193) [Link]

> so instead they announced that all development agsinst their current platform was a dead-end, released a windows phone and almost immediatly afterwords announced that that platform was a dead-end and that the phones were not going to be able to be upgraded to the next release of the software.

Yes, which was a shocking shocking error, proving that not only have they learned nothing whatsoever from S60 and ITOS/Maemo/MeeGo-Harmattan, they've also learned nothing whatsoever from Android.

> It's possible that Windows will save them, but it's also a new, unknown phone platform with no apps. In addition they can't change it as they are completely at the mercy of Microsoft. Microsoft does not have a good track record of supporting their partners over a long timeframe.

Windows Phone has 110k apps, some of which are shockingly high quality. (Many of which are totally pointless.) It's certainly got a much wider breadth of apps than MeeGo ever had or was ever destined to have, and the average quality is much much higher.

(Full disclosure: I own a Lumia 800, bought because I thought - and still think - the UI's fantastic and it's a pleasure to use. I'm also selling it, because they've killed the platform by not having upgrades.)

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 16, 2012 5:21 UTC (Tue) by ras (subscriber, #33059) [Link]

Yes, they shipped a Windows Phone in 9 months. But Windows Phone 7 was a pretty horrible beast and deservedly boomed. Have you seen the "why Windows Phone sucks" list? It is mostly a list of features the phone should have, but doesn't. Here is one: www.thinkdigit.com/forum/mobiles-tablets/156824-a.html

Much of that list arises because Windows Phone 7 is based on CE. Windows Phone 8 is based on a decent OS and you would expect that list to disappear with time, but right now Windows Phone 8 is so new there are no apps that take advantage of it. My guess is it will be at least 2013 before we see the product Nokia needed when they abandoned their Unix efforts.

Oddly, you are right in a way. In effect Nokia has all but stopped selling smart phones for 2 years (so far) as they make the switch to Microsoft, and one reason is Microsoft didn't have a competitive product to sell and they still don't.

And yes, Nokia was hopelessly late with their first release of their Unix phones. But the phone they did release was miles ahead of Windows Phone 7 feature wise, and as the story pointed out, it was amazing how fast the Linux team moved once the politics was cleaned up.

It's impossible to say what would of happened if they had of continued with their in-house software instead of Microsoft, but it is hard to see how it could have been in a worse position than the find themselves in now. And if they had of pulled it off, they would have found themselves in a much better position. They would have been in control of their own destiny, making money from selling apps from their own app store, for a start.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 12, 2012 23:21 UTC (Fri) by raven667 (subscriber, #5198) [Link]

They differentiate by being one of the few vendors shipping Windows Phone at all and in a flagship device. Ideally they have a special relationship as the first among peers with the OS vendor.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 8:05 UTC (Sat) by niner (subscriber, #26151) [Link]

"They differentiate by being one of the few vendors shipping Meego at all and in a flagship device. Ideally they have a special relationship as being among peers in the OS vendor consortium."

How exactly is the situation now better than with what they already had?

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 16:04 UTC (Sat) by raven667 (subscriber, #5198) [Link]

Now they have a shipping phone with a small but established software ecosystem around it. I don't think meego had any future even if Nokia backed it fully, they threw away their third party ecosystem by making gratuitous API/ABI changes. If they hadn't rebooted development, hadn't merged with moblin, had shipped something in the last five years they would have been better off.

As far as choosing another os like android or webOS, I'm not sure webOS was available at the time but it could have been another good choice. The Android market is pretty cutthroat and they didn't want to be in such direct competition, there isn't much brand loyalty or profit margins in the android market, they also probably wouldn't be able to finagle special treatment from google as they did from MS because MS is more desperate for a hardware partner.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 16:11 UTC (Sat) by boudewijn (subscriber, #14185) [Link]

Originally, the reason Nokia nurtured so many third party companies to develop Maemo/MeeGo was the expectation that by doing that, they would bootstrap the whole ecosystem of companies around the platform. When I first got involved I thought that a very smart strategy, and I still am convinced it would have worked. Other parts of Nokia's strategy were pretty brilliant, too. But then... Other parts again were so bad.

I remember the sudden burst of anger in Ruoholahti when the N8 was released with Symbian on it. Nokia people I talked too were genuinely surprised it wasn't a Maemo device.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 13:33 UTC (Sat) by pboddie (guest, #50784) [Link]

Only "brand strategists" care about whether there's a "special relationship" or whether a "flagship device" is involved, especially if such a device struggles to measure up to whatever Samsung's Windows offerings are, not to mention the torrent of non-Windows devices from all the other manufacturers.

And already, the "first among peers" status has been shown to be a joke. Other vendors scooped Nokia when releasing Windows handsets and the apparently large cash transfer to Nokia from Microsoft was really money earmarked for promoting the Microsoft product. Given that Microsoft's strategy is, as always, to buy large amounts of favourable publicity and that the company has no strategic alternative, that's not much of a gift to their partners.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 16:09 UTC (Sat) by raven667 (subscriber, #5198) [Link]

I believe that Nokia thought their devices would struggle even harder against Samsungs Android line. Aside from Nokia and maybe HTC, other vendors Windows phones are an afterthought, placeholders in case anyone wants them but not a market they are seriously persuing.

The whole strategy depends on how desperate MS is to stay relevant and how much Nokia can get out of their "special relationship".

Going Android

Posted Oct 13, 2012 0:44 UTC (Sat) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

The differentiation between UI on Android phones is a pretty strong indication that competing on hardware isn't enough - vendors need to compete on the software as well.
I don't see the UI as the major difference between Samsung, HTC and the myriad other manufacturers, but rather as a liability. The official look&feel is good enough; the big disproportion between Android manufacturers cannot be correlated with their home-grown UIs.

My wild guess would be that the main differenciating factors are: hardware, openness and updates, probably in this order. Samsung excels at the three of them, and is at the top; HTC failed on the last two and fell a long way. As a free software enthusiast it is nice seeing that people value openness.

Distasteful as it may be, going Windows was a rational choice for Nokia.
You use a different value for "rational" than I do: a rational choice that leads you from being market leader to a platform with single-digit market share in two years has to be questioned. Nokia had the in-house Linux expertise to build great phones even without the Android momentum; they just had to ride the wave building what they do, great hardware. The rational choice would have been to start building Linux phones many years before, not go to Windows (an unknown platform at best) as an afterthought to their declining market share.

Going Android

Posted Oct 13, 2012 1:11 UTC (Sat) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

> The rational choice would have been to start building Linux phones many years before

The rational choice would have been to fire everybody involved in Symbian in 2006, but come 2011 that horse had already set fire to the stable and fled to the Caymans. Nokia's in-house Linux expertise was fragmented over multiple teams working independently of each other, or subcontracted out to vendors with contracts specifying that they'd be working on Meego and not some other Linux platform. Telling them to start working on Android instead wouldn't have magically made an Android device appear in a reasonable timeframe.

Going Android

Posted Oct 13, 2012 9:36 UTC (Sat) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

At the point Elop came aboard, Nokia could have chosen to ship more Meego phones, and coalesce all of their teams around it. Given how the N9 came out (both in time and commercially) I think that it was the safe choice. I don't see why coalescing the company around Meego (an in-house development) should be harder than going with a completely foreign platform. But even building Android drivers for the N9 and shipping a line based on it, I don't either see why they could not have made it in a reasonable time frame.

Both choices seem more rational than committing seppuku with a loser platform (except perhaps if you are a former Microsoft executive and/or a submarine envoy). Throwing out all the in-house expertise built over the years, when you are the market leader in a category is somehow rational? Perhaps you have some knowledge you want to share that says otherwise.

Going Android

Posted Oct 13, 2012 10:13 UTC (Sat) by daniels (subscriber, #16193) [Link]

I might've misinterpreted you here, but the N9 did not come out in anything even remotely resembling 'on time'.

Going Android

Posted Oct 13, 2012 10:29 UTC (Sat) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

Well, you are right. I thought it had been released at the beginning of 2011, but reality says otherwise.

Going Android

Posted Oct 13, 2012 10:35 UTC (Sat) by daniels (subscriber, #16193) [Link]

Even early 2011 wouldn't have constituted 'on time' though.

Going Android

Posted Oct 13, 2012 10:15 UTC (Sat) by marcH (subscriber, #57642) [Link]

> Throwing out all the in-house expertise built over the years,

Had Nokia any Android expertise? Sorry if this hurts LWN feelings but Linux is only a very small part of it.

Going Android

Posted Oct 13, 2012 18:28 UTC (Sat) by pboddie (guest, #50784) [Link]

I think the point being made is that the company should have actually focused on their in-house Linux-based work instead of either letting turf wars undermine it or having an army of pundits and paper-pushers "focus" on it by taking it over as their pet project.

Changing the strategy over and over again - something that a complete platform change would obviously be a part of - is the story throughout that article at one organisational level or another, but skittish management and the desire for sudden and instant success appears to be a wider symptom of modern business.

Going Android

Posted Oct 13, 2012 19:14 UTC (Sat) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

Exactly. There is one additional point: Nokia had a lot of in-house expertise about smartphones, being (once again) market leader and all. They had bought Symbian, a Psion spin-off, precisely because of that expertise. Firing all of Symbian might sound like a good idea to Garrett, but in fact they had built the most successful OS for smartphones ever (even today but not for long). In fact they defined the category in the first place! After selling some 400 million devices perhaps they know a thing or two.

I cannot begin to think how Nokia could not align Symbian behind Maƫmo/Meego/Harmattan/whatever, and help them get up to speed with the times: GHz processors, high definition screens, etcetera (I don't have a lot of imagination left anyway). The end of the article must be quoted to find out how this came to be, but it may be disappointing: it paints a very common story.

The organization, however, was led from an ivory tower. Towards the end the individual developers had no say in, or even worse no knowledge about, the decisions and changes that took place in the background. Many Nokia employees we interviewed were, at the time, focused on their specific task, and not aware of the bigger picture of MeeGo development. The technology was developed in various teams, which did not communicate with each other. No one made sure that the pieces of the puzzle fit together.
A sad ending for what could have been our Free software phone wet dream.

Going Android

Posted Oct 13, 2012 22:15 UTC (Sat) by marcH (subscriber, #57642) [Link]

> In fact they defined the category in the first plache!

None of the people I know who had a Symbian phone put it in the smartphone category.

Why does everyone think the iPhone was the very first smartphone? Because only the user interface matters and makes the phone look "smart" or not.

If Symbian had been good enough to create an actual "smartphone" product (in the usual, "user-interface" meaning of the term), then Nokia would not have spent years trying to a create a (couple of) brand new alternative(s). And they would probably not be where they are today.

Going Android

Posted Oct 25, 2012 14:35 UTC (Thu) by Tet (subscriber, #5433) [Link]

None of the people I know who had a Symbian phone put it in the smartphone category

You know the term "smartphone" predates the iphone by a decade, right? And that Nokia used it for years to refer to their Symbian phones? What's a smartphone? A rough definition might be one that can download and run apps, and has internet connectivity. Hmmm... just like the Symbian based Nokia phones I used to have. Funny that...

Going Android

Posted Oct 25, 2012 21:22 UTC (Thu) by marcH (subscriber, #57642) [Link]

I'm happy you and Nokia agree with each other.

Going Android

Posted Oct 14, 2012 12:29 UTC (Sun) by pboddie (guest, #50784) [Link]

Nokia had a lot of expertise around making hardware, even at the smartphone level, but the article indicates that much of this was unnecessarily tied up by the Symbian faction, meaning that substantial cooperation appears to have been denied to the Linux faction within Nokia. That by itself explains why various hardware problems always seemed to recur with the Internet tablets and why Nokia spokespeople kept telling customers that they couldn't expect Free Software drivers and that they should consider themselves lucky with what they were given.

What we see in this story is probably commonplace in businesses where one product line, responsible for a lot of earlier revenue, is rapidly going out of date but where those in charge of that product line dominate the resources and refuse to relinquish them, insisting that they are "part of the solution". I imagine it was similar with Solaris within Sun Microsystems when customers told the company that they had to modernise their OS distribution and/or provide GNU/Linux in the product line-up: things like OpenSolaris, Sun's Linux distributions, and various modern tools all probably faced internal opposition from the factions insisting that the golden age would return and on their particular schedule, too.

Symbian, competitive in the form of its predecessors in an age when they offered features lacking from certain desktop operating systems, was getting a renaissance from the availability of Qt across all Nokia's platforms, but that was merely a measure to dull the pain of working with it in an age when there are fewer limitations on what you can deploy on a mobile device. Sadly, that helped prolong the mindset that Symbian might be the only answer to the company's problems and thus prolonged the turf wars that undermined the introduction of a viable successor.

Nokia's main problem appears to have been incompetence in management, thus squandering many of the advantages of being a large organisation with access to substantial resources.

Going Android

Posted Oct 14, 2012 23:06 UTC (Sun) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

What we see in this story is probably commonplace in businesses where one product line, responsible for a lot of earlier revenue, is rapidly going out of date but where those in charge of that product line dominate the resources and refuse to relinquish them, insisting that they are "part of the solution".

Yup. Typical reaction to Distuptive technology. Textbook example, in fact. The Innovator's Dilemma and The Innovator's Solution explain how to solve it: you create separate, semi-autonomous division - prefarably not all that close to the HQ of the old company, then give it some legal support (plus small initial startup capital). This is how PC was born (do you know why it was named IBM model number 5150? that's because it was supposed "successor" of IBM 5100 which was designed in a traditional way and, of course, totally bombed in market).

Nokia was unable to do that. Elop did this part of the strategy right. What it did totally wrong is immediate abandonment of everything else. Instead he should have praised Sybian and gave it money and his total support. Probably positioned WP7 phones as phones for the emergent (for Nokia) markets (like US) and kept hyping Sybian elsewhere.

Nokia's main problem appears to have been incompetence in management, thus squandering many of the advantages of being a large organisation with access to substantial resources.

It's the opposite, in fact. It was too effective in suppressing useless development which had nothing to do with the needs/wants of Nokia customers.

Please read the The Innovator's Dilemma. Please. Successful, properly run companies suffer from disruptive technologies, not the incompetent ones (incompetent ones lose much earlier).

Going Android

Posted Oct 15, 2012 9:42 UTC (Mon) by pboddie (guest, #50784) [Link]

Yes, thanks for yet another rant and the usual list of recommended reading links. I don't think I disputed that disruptive technologies threaten successful companies, but maybe you already wanted to tell us this anyway and were looking to get it off your chest at the first opportunity.

I also like the way you redefine management incompetence and failure to execute to be effective management in a politicised culture so that burying projects under layers of time-wasting is actually seen as an effective way of focusing the company on its priorities. (Never mind that such projects, run correctly, should actually have been the top priority for the company.) I'm sure such management practices appealed to various Roman Emperors and to the average despot, but objectively it is an incompetent squandering of an organisation's resources and ability to compete at a level its size would suggest.

What will be of most interest to historians and business theorists is how a previously successful organisation whose recent success was supposedly founded on its management structure entered a period of decline and inaction. And we're talking about a company that was making stuff like cables and rubber products for most of its history, so you can spare us the lecture about disruption.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 0:57 UTC (Sat) by chithanh (guest, #52801) [Link]

> Distasteful as it may be, going Windows was a rational choice for Nokia.

No. Nokia were advised to go Android very early by a consultant they had hired, `but rejected his suggestion that the company ought to adopt Android, arguing that the company would "lose control of their destiny"'

http://www.computing.co.uk/ctg/news/2188976/nokia-elop-bo...

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 18:37 UTC (Sat) by nhippi (subscriber, #34640) [Link]

It was not a rational decision.. it was emotional. Nokia executives hate passionately Android since it killed Symbian.

The only differentiation Lumia 800 offered when entering market was the ipod-nano-curvy case. It was simply are more marketed version of Samsung omnia 7 and HTC HD7 (even the HW was identical...). Today, HTC has launched identical WP8 phones to what Nokia plans (except the fancy camera) to release.

Clearly they have to compete with Asian manufacturers within the WP same way they would have done in Android camp.

The only "difference" being in WP camp is that it lets Nokia fight to slice in the WP pie (3% of market), instead of fighting for a slice in the 68% pie over in the android side.

The rational decision would have been going OS agnostic and launching both android and WP devices. If you want to be a HW company, don't try to be strategic in OS field.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 14, 2012 5:47 UTC (Sun) by cmccabe (guest, #60281) [Link]

> Distasteful as it may be, going Windows was a rational choice for Nokia.

It seems like people have a really deep misunderstanding of what Android is about. Because the code for Android is Apache 2.0, manufacturers using Android have some flexibility when dealing with Google. Google can't just "cut off their air supply" like Microsoft can do with Windows OEMs if they do something Mr. Ballmer doesn't like. Google does have closed-source add-ons like Google Navigation, but those are optional, and some vendors, like Amazon, have chosen to go it alone.

It's fundamentally irrational for Nokia to expect Microsoft to treat it differently than it treats Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and all the other current Windows OEMs. Microsoft is used to giving orders and having them obeyed, not cultivating long-term relationships with an equal partner. It's widely known in the tech community that partnering with Microsoft is a dumb idea. Some of the internal Microsoft memos revealed by the DoJ antitrust case talk about how Microsoft needs to stop "screwing its partners" because otherwise nobody would dare to partner with them in the future.

Nokia could definitely have made a good Android phone with the resources it had available in 2009. They had a great sales channel, a great brand, good hardware guys, and even good (if mismanaged) software teams. They knew how to bring up a board, how to get the marketing machine going, and so forth. The truly smart thing to do would have been to find a way to run Symbian software on Android and offer developers and users a clear migration path. If they wanted to hedge their bets, they could have also spun up a Windows phone project too, but they should have asked Microsoft to foot most of the bills for this development.

But now? They're just an empty shell of a company. Sales are down across the board, even in the dumbphone business unit, because people have lost confidence in Nokia. Microsoft is probably going to bring out its own Windows phone and begin competing directly against Nokia. One day we'll look back at Nokia much like we look back at Commodore or Tandy. Whatever happened to those guys?

The remaining assets are NAVTEQ and the patent pool. I expect that they will easily find buyers for both of those. Unfortunately, the buyers are likely to be either Apple or Microsoft. Apple could sure use the maps team right about now.

Remaining assets

Posted Oct 14, 2012 22:16 UTC (Sun) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

There are many remaining assets relevant to this forum: Qt, Meego, WebKit. It would be a pity if they were oracled... sorry, I meant "orphaned".

Remaining assets

Posted Oct 15, 2012 16:21 UTC (Mon) by bronson (subscriber, #4806) [Link]

Qt and WebKit have thriving communities outside Nokia. WebKit wouldn't even notice if Nokia disappeared, Qt would shrug it off. No worries here.

Alas, Meego is dead in the water, with or without Nokia.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 14, 2012 8:50 UTC (Sun) by kragil (guest, #34373) [Link]

In hindsight that makes no sense whatsoever. Windows Phone is failing and Android is still growing and dominates most markets.

Business question: Do you want 60% of 1% the market or 30% of 70% of the market?

Nokia would be in much better shape if they had just put Android on the highly praise N9 PERIOD *END OF DISCUSSION*

One last hint: Remember Nokias business is selling as many phones as possible. Windows Phone isn't help.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 15, 2012 9:39 UTC (Mon) by fb (subscriber, #53265) [Link]

> The differentiation between UI on Android phones is a pretty strong indication that competing on hardware isn't enough - vendors need to compete on the software as well.

IMHO the differentiation is more due to managers ordering their software teams to differentiate (for no practical reason whatsoever) than anything else.

Every Android phone review I read on the internet seems to revolve on how much the 'differentiation' broke Google's vanilla experience.

[...]

I recently discovered that many family members bought some Motorola Android devices which were on sale. The devices were so bad that the that that entire family group now has a deep and real aversion to any and all things Motorola/Android.

Having low-end Android phones that people could trust to recommend and buy would go a long from the current state of affairs.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 0:30 UTC (Sat) by karim (subscriber, #114) [Link]

Because they had a very strong foothold in markets where others were not (and still aren't) established. This has nothing to do with technology and everything to do with go-to-market and sales channels. Nokia could've (still can?) become the dominant Android platform in the markets it owned.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 0:41 UTC (Sat) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

Android's not an option in those markets yet. The hardware's simply not up to it. In a couple of years, sure, and for all I know the long term plan is to adopt Android there - but that doesn't mean it was an option for the smartphone market in 2011.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 0:48 UTC (Sat) by karim (subscriber, #114) [Link]

I have no idea what you're talking about. I was in Cairo two weeks ago and the billboards were clearly advertizing Samsung and Huawei phones running Android, though the "Android" brand was NOT displayed. Nokia could've done the same exact thing.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 0:58 UTC (Sat) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

And those are higher-end phones than the ones aimed at the markets Nokia are dominant in.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 1:29 UTC (Sat) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523) [Link]

The cheapest Android phones now cost less than $100. In a year or so they'll be less than $40.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 1:39 UTC (Sat) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

The cheapest Android phones are pretty awful. For the functionality it provides, Series 40 does a much better job. Right now, shifting the top end of the Series 40 market over to Android would either raise prices or reduce user experience. In a year that might have changed, but that isn't an argument for whether or not adopting Android in 2011 was realistic.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 2:07 UTC (Sat) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523) [Link]

So? They could have continued selling S40-based phones. Moreover, they even had ported QT to S40 making it possible to write applications working on both platforms and providing a smooth migration path.

As it is, they now have no such possibility because WP8 phones are even more hardware-hungry than Android phones.

So they've traded control over the platform for PR assistance from Microsoft. So far that hasn't worked at all.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 2:09 UTC (Sat) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

And supported three operating systems at once? That's where they had the problems to start with.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 2:17 UTC (Sat) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523) [Link]

And that's what they've still ended up with (WP7, WP8 and Symbian).

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 2:29 UTC (Sat) by mjg59 (subscriber, #23239) [Link]

Calling WP7 supported is probably being too kind.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 2:41 UTC (Sat) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523) [Link]

Why? They still have to support WP7 for at least a year for existing phones that are _still_ being sold.

And WP7 and WP8 are completely different OSes, WP7 uses a WinCE kernel and WP8 uses a modified WinNT kernel. So they have still spent two years adapting OS just to abandon it later.

Both OSes share some level of API/ABI compatibility because apps for WP7 are written exclusively in .NET (with native API only available to Microsoft and a small clique of partners). But that was also true for the plan to use QT to make development possible for Symbian and Meego. And Meego/Harmattan was planned to be binary backward compatible with later Meego.

So the situation would have been EXACTLY the same.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 22:16 UTC (Sat) by chithanh (guest, #52801) [Link]

Indeed. There is no answer from Nokia to the $100 Android phones like the ZTE Blade. The Asha phones are toys and little more than feature phones with touchscreens.

Expecting decent $40 Android phones in a year is however a little optimistic.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 13, 2012 22:28 UTC (Sat) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523) [Link]

http://www.hotukdeals.com/deals/23-99-possibly-cheapest-a... - it's possible to buy a phone for 45GBP already. It's not quite $40, but it's getting very close.

And these will be fairly decent phones with a recent enough Android version (not some Android 1.6 crap from Walmart).

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 15, 2012 1:28 UTC (Mon) by chithanh (guest, #52801) [Link]

Indeed you can get that Huawei U8180 (Ideos X1) of yours and other non-decent Android devices for cheaper, e.g. here is an eBay seller who asks only 29.49 GBP for his Android smartphones:
http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=...

What I'd call decent is at least WVGA screen, 512 MB RAM, ability to install CM10 for advanced users - all of which the Blade satisfies but the ultra-cheap Androids don't.

The story of Nokia MeeGo (TaskuMuro)

Posted Oct 15, 2012 15:27 UTC (Mon) by BenHutchings (subscriber, #37955) [Link]

The latest CM version for the Blade is 7.2, and I see no sign that later versions will be ported.


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